How I Work
As you’ve read, I help people develop Psychological Flexibility. Psychological Flexibility is the main focus of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Training.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy/Training
Russ Harris, one of my favorite authors of ACT books, defines ACT in the following clear and concise way:
“Acceptance and Commitment Therapy/Training (ACT) is a unique and creative model for both therapy and coaching, based on the innovative use of mindfulness and values. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) gets its name from one of its core messages: accept what is out of your personal control, and commit to action that improves and enriches your life. The aim of ACT is to maximize human potential for a rich, full and meaningful life. ACT (which is pronounced as the word ‘act’, not as the initials) does this by:
a) teaching you psychological skills to deal with your painful thoughts and feelings effectively – in such a way that they have much less impact and influence over you (these are known as mindfulness skills).
b) helping you to clarify what is truly important and meaningful to you – i.e your values – then use that knowledge to guide, inspire and motivate you to change your life for the better.”*
ACT has been shown by research to help build Psychological Flexibility. For more information about ACT, click here.
More About Psychological Flexibility
Psychological Flexibility is Unique
The concept of Psychological Flexibility is becoming better known these days, but it is a bit provocative, because it’s contrary to a lot of the pop psychology, self-help, and motivational advice you see out there in books, articles, blogs and on social media. A lot of that stuff has led us astray. You hear in some circles that you can live a pain-free life, or you can permanently get rid of your pain and stress. However, research tells us a different story. Research has shown that consistent efforts to try to make difficult and uncomfortable thoughts and feelings go away are actually counterproductive, and the very thoughts and feelings which make up much of our struggle persist more than they would otherwise.
Psychological Flexibility is not about changing , avoiding, fighting off, or suppressing our negative, difficult, or uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, or trying to replace them with more positive ones. It is instead about changing our relationship with them so that they no longer get in the way.
We want to avoid letting our feelings and thoughts push us around, because our in-the-moment feelings and thoughts (especially the ones that feel most urgent) are poor predictors of what’s best for our long-term, most valued life. When we act on our in-the-moment thoughts and feelings, (like worry, anxiety, sadness, frustration, stress, self-doubt, fear and uncertainty) we are usually just trying to avoid pain in the short-term. And many times this gets us caught in a ‘stuck’ cycle and we can’t get out of our own way…we don’t move forward toward what’s most meaningful to us in the big picture.
Believe it or not, there are concrete and practical tools you can learn to become more psychologically flexible. Having someone say, “Feel the fear and do it anyway” is not so helpful if you don’t know how. The same goes for mindfulness, a major part of Psychological Flexibility… “Live in the moment” and “be present” are sort of empty instructions without specific skills for how to do that. This is what I help people learn and use in their daily lives…the ‘how-to’ part of the equation. The strategies I teach are grounded in mindfulness approaches and are proven by research to have long-term results.
What It Is and What It’s Not
I also want to be really clear about what my work is and what it is not, so that you can make a choice about whether it is a good fit for you. So let’s clarify:
The work I do in Counseling Sessions and Strategy Sessions does not involve:
- “The Law of Attraction”
- “The Secret”
- Positive Thinking
I am not saying there is anything wrong with these approaches/tools. If they have been helpful to you, that’s wonderful, but it’s just not the type of work I do. As mentioned, many life coaching programs out there (as well as self-help and personal development programs, courses, and books) use these types of strategies, which help you to work on changing your thoughts and feelings.
The work I do is radically different from this. It’s not about helping you try to change your thoughts or feelings, as this often can be difficult to do consistently with long term effects. (We have thousands of thoughts in a day, and it would be very difficult to monitor and change all of those thoughts to make sure they are positive.)
As you have read, my work is instead about helping you develop Psychological Flexibility, the ability to change your relationship with your thoughts and feelings, as opposed to trying to avoid them, fight them off, or turn them around to be positive. It’s about reducing the struggle with your thoughts and feelings. I teach specific skills and strategies you can actually practice on a daily basis to do this, which makes a difference…long term…in how you experience your life day to day.
This approach acknowledges that you are human, and humans naturally have sometimes difficult and negative (i.e. unpleasant/uncomfortable) thoughts and feelings. You can have a purpose-full, fulfilling life without fighting reality or being anything other than a human being with normal, natural experiences.
My work involves teaching mindfulness skills. You can find out more about these skills in the free download About Mindfulness on the Free Stuff page.